Could we perhaps say that awareness is not limited to ‘awareness of’?
So, for instance, there is an ‘awareness of’ the thing we call ‘tree’, or of the ghostly white disc in the night sky we call ‘moon’ - just as there might be an ‘awareness of’ physical pain when we stub our toe.
Think of awareness as the light that enables sight, the illumination that enables seeing. Without words and images, language, to “make sense” of sensation, there is only color, contrast, shapes, sounds, smells, movement, etc., and the organism’s visceral response to it all until thought responds/reacts with the words and images that accurately or inaccurately describe what is happening, enabling one to respond in a meaningful (for better or worse) way.
So, words and images are, as you say, illusions, mental constructs, but without them to impart meaning to what is unfolding, one cannot respond to stimuli, how ever intelligently or mistakenly. Practical thought has its place.
Psychological thought, however, has no place at all because it is resistance to and denial of the silence and emptiness that practical thought informs when necessary.
A water-mill grinds grain by ‘receiving’ the water from a flowing river; but obviously this is just a way of speaking: no actual ‘reception’ - in the sense of an active communication - takes place.
Similarly a radio converts radio waves into sounds that are intelligible for human purposes. But any actual ‘reception’ or ‘detection’ is being done by the human beings who receive and translate the sounds that are produced.
The relatively arbitrary assortment of circuit boards, resistors, capacitors, transformers, transistors, plastic and metal, etc, do not ‘detect’ or ‘receive’ anything: so there is no qualia for the man-made object we call a ‘radio’.
However, as was being discussed on the other thread, there may be ‘something it is like’ to be a crustacean. I won’t repeat the reasoning for that here as I went into it there already.
So I don’t see how it makes sense to say that a form of awareness exists in which there is absolutely no qualia. Why call it awareness then (primitive or otherwise)?
Yes we are speaking past each other a bit, methinks!
The terms I’m using, detection and reception, have nothing to do with sentience or qualia. I’m using them like lay people use them: radio reception is the process of a radio detecting radio waves.
When I explore an idea, my starting point is to try to penetrate to its essential core. I don’t always get there, indeed an argument could be made that there is no there to get to! The core essence of awareness for me is: detection. Period. No interpretation, association, comparison, all of which are driven by thought. Qualia and feeling are (perhaps) in another category, the Subjective Zone.
That said I’m open to different, more expansive views of what awareness is (might be).
Am I imagining or are we falling (have we fallen) into a Rabbit Hole of Words?!!
I think you achieved your objective!
I understand your hesitation thinking awareness might only ‘come into existence’ when it is called for. I heard the idea from a very learned Buddhist philosophy dude, and I resisted it strongly. Then it made all sorts of sense to me!
I like that! Maybe it’s a level ‘beneath’ detection, that would make Advaitin sense: detection (and everything else) supervenes on the Mystery.
What is awareness cannot be conveyed in dialogue or words.
In words we can only say what awareness is not.
It depends on whether dialogue participants are aware or not.
To have a dialogue with K might be different to having a dialogue with those caught in web of words.
Those operating on words intellectually only see the world as word. They are not able to explore awareness directly in daily life because of obsession of thought.
It reminds me of the example of Plato’s cave. Those who are in the cave, believe their images are real, refuse to accept that awareness has nothing to do with their words. They will keep discussing intellectually on level of words. Their images, their words are their world which is an intellectual cave.
Those who see awareness has nothing to do with words have left that cave as it is pointless to discuss intellectually about awareness.
Just based on this, we might then say that our ears are not aware (they just react to signals and transform them, like radios).
And awareness is more a movement of motive and discrimination (based on fear and memory) produced by the brain for the self identity?
So the K teaching of awareness would be about being wary of wariness?
Or am I cherry picking and concluding from the wrong opinions?
I respect what you say Adeen. Ultimately all psychological questions must be resolved nonverbally through direct perception.
It is also true that there is a cultural tendency to give greater value to the intellect than to direct perception, and that many people are satisfied with ‘living in the cave’ of the intellect.
However, there is clearly a legitimate place for verbal dialogue concerning psychological matters. And as this is a discussion forum in which verbal communication is clearly necessary, this is an opportunity for people to attempt to clarify any misunderstandings we might have about the mind.
If there are those who act in good faith, I don’t see anything wrong with this. - Although it is also important to be reminded again and again that the ‘word is not the thing’, as you have done here.
I don’t get what you are saying here Douglas, or what the connection is between the quoted text and the points you are making?
From my pointing out that radios are not aware you respond by saying that
Obviously the senses (including our ears) do not exist in isolation but are connected to the brain and nervous system, and are accompanied by sentience (sentience being the susceptibility to sensation, e.g. sound). Radios are not sentient.
Your second point has to do with the etymology of the word ‘awareness’, although I’m also not clear what your concern is here. The basic root of the word ‘awareness’ is ‘to perceive’, ‘watch out for’ - which implies sentience (as do its later Proto-Germanic associations of wariness and caution). I brought up this etymology in response to Rick’s claim that awareness does not involve sentience.
My sense is that although basic awareness always involves (or is indeed synonymous with) sentience - sentience being the susceptibility to sensation - there may be an ingredient in awareness, or an aspect of awareness, that is not reducible to sentience.
As a rough analogy, we ordinarily encounter light (illumination) through the objects onto which it falls. But light may be something in itself (even without objects).
So, similarly, we ordinarily encounter awareness through our awareness of things - whether thoughts, sensations, objects or people. But awareness may be something in itself.
Another analogy is that of space. If one thinks of a vase then one might say that the space inside the vase is distinct from the space outside the vase. But if the vase is broken or smashed, the space inside and the space outside are revealed to be the same space.
So in the same way, I wonder, is there an aspect of awareness that isn’t personal or limited to one’s own brain, but which exists in itself, like space?